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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:04 PM

Timothy Egan: Little economic upward mobility in the U.S.

Like everyone else with a perverse curiosity about a castle-bound community fussing over whether to use a bouillon or a melon spoon, I’ve been consumed by the turns in “Downton Abbey,” the latest export from England to keep American public television afloat.

In a season of haute-soap plot twists, the story of the working-class Irishman, Tom Branson, whose marriage to Lady Sybil gives him a life leap in upward mobility, is worth examining for what it says about class, then and now. Branson is still “the chauffeur” to a family living on moldered wealth, and his brother the car mechanic is “a drunken gorilla” for asking if there’s any beer in the House of Lord Grantham.

But if someone with grease on his hands and an accent from a workaday neighborhood can rise to an estate management position in the rigid British class system, what, by comparison, are we to make of the American experience nearly a century removed?

Oh, but we are a nation free of class conflict, we tell ourselves daily, and live with the illusion that everyone with a job is somehow middle class. Our core, motivational narrative is that anyone with gumption and good luck can rise to a comfortable tier. They don’t call that the British Dream.

And yet, a raft of recent studies has found the United States to be a less upwardly mobile society than many comparable nations, particularly for men. One survey reported that 42 percent of American boys raised in the bottom fifth of income stayed there as adults. For Britain, the numbers were better by 30 percent. Just 8 percent of American men made the jump from the lowest fifth to the highest fifth, compared to 12 percent for the Brits.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/downton-and-downward/?hp

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Reply Timothy Egan: Little economic upward mobility in the U.S. (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Feb 2013 OP
sadbear Feb 2013 #1
CountAllVotes Feb 2013 #3
joeybee12 Feb 2013 #2
Johonny Feb 2013 #4

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:08 PM

1. IMO, Egan has credibility in this area.

Just got done reading his "The Worst Hard Time" about the Dust Bowl in the Lower Great Plains. Great complimentary material to Ken Burns' documentary series.

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Response to sadbear (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 01:01 PM

3. same here!

Great book isn't it?

I may opt to read it again just because ...



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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:10 PM

2. Yup, another myth designed to help those in power...

stay in power.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 01:16 PM

4. and yet our political language is stuck

At best we still hear constantly of the middle class, education as the key to a better future etc...

Its not that the language isn't true per say as that the modern system is not design to allow the young to have the same advantages as the previous generations. I think far to often modern politicians waste time talking about a system that most of us rarely experience and champion a few select few that manage to navigate the system to obscene wealth while the vast majority toll away needlessly. It is time to stop the language that the poor are poor because they can't think, don't work hard, leech off the hard workers, because so many are finding no matter how hard they work they can not get ahead. People need to stop fighting only for social programs and return to fighting against pointless concentration of greed that has completely clogged our society. There is nothing worse than having to listen to poor conservatives complain about some other poor person and how they are robbing their opportunity to succeed. Yet Republicans have been incredibly skilled at ingraining that concept into our society.

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